Senator John H. Chafee’s dedicated efforts as a governor made it possible for the establishment of a community college in Rhode Island and has opened the doors of opportunity for many Rhode Islanders. When the college first opened in 1964, original plans only called for 200 students, but Chafee permitted expansion to 325 due to the large number of applicants.
Before serving as governor, Chafee served six years in the Rhode Island House of Representatives, where he was elected minority leader. He was appointed Secretary of the Navy in January 1969, and served in that post for more than three years.
In 1976, Chafee was the first Republican to be elected as a U.S. Senator from Rhode Island in 46 years, and the first Republican to win re-election in 52 years.
Chafee served as chair of the Republican Conference for six years. He was a senior member of the Senate Committee on Finance; the ranking Republican on the Committee of Environment and Public Works; a former member of Senate Select Committee on Intelligence; and a former member of the Senate Arms Control Observer Group.
Chafee is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Yale University, where he was a Chubb Fellow. He has been awarded honorary degrees from Brown University, Providence College, the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, Roger Williams College, Salve Regina College, Suffolk University, Jacksonville University and Bryant University.